James Jacob (future): ‘Design should be beautiful and timeless’
Designer and artist James Jacob dreams of a quiet revolution; he sees the considerate design of everyday objects as a medium to change the world. “I’m most inspired by a poetic, purposeful form of design,” he says. Since graduating from Kingston University, where he studied product and furniture design, Jacob has worked on individual concept art and collaborative furniture-making briefs. He is also involved in the Baum Studio project, a new initiative to create affordable oak tables “made to last 100 years”.
This combination of longevity and commonplace beauty drew Jacob to Geberit’s 21st-century bathroom brief. “I was interested in a project that involved presenting necessary fixtures in such a creative and ambitious way,” he says. “I wouldn’t describe myself as a futuristic designer, but I’m interested in how everyday objects can still be relevant in 100 years’ time.”
Jacob’s bathroom design treats comfort and hygiene as a priority and water as a luxury: “Water is recycled throughout the bathroom. Integrated haptic, motion-sensor and voice-automated technology controls the lighting, water delivery, water purification, aroma and humidity.”
Rather than create a single room, his design includes integrated spaces with divider walls to afford privacy. “In the bathing space, the traditional wooden floors and plants mimic Japanese tradition,” he says.
In the toilet area, Geberit’s Monolith + AquaClean Sela is well suited to his overall design: “The toilet is allowed to hold its own, relaxed space. A toilet is an ordinary object, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be beautiful.”
Fly-through of a bathroom designed for the future
Some great design double acts are just meant to happen. Such was the case for Issy Spence and Oliver Jack, who met while working together on the University of Bath’s flagship Basil Spence project, a final-year challenge exploring students’ knowledge of civil engineering and architecture.
“We have similar tastes,” says Spence, “but our working process to get there is very different. Oliver has a strong vision from the start and is very methodical; I’m more fluid and wild in the way I work. But when we come together, we complement each other and arrive at the same aesthetic.”
Tackling the industrial brief for Geberit’s 21st-century bathroom project, Spence and Jack drew inspiration from Bristol, London and Amsterdam – where they completed their work placements – as well as the Tribeca loft apartments of New York City. “We established a very playful material palette as a starting point,” says Jack, “then tried to imagine what the rest of the house would look like, rather than just creating a standalone bathroom.
“The shower block is the sculptural centrepiece of the room,” he says. “It’s complemented by the white subway tiles and cast concrete sink.
“We chose a black steel window frame to allow light to illuminate the room during the day and vintage factory pendants to provide light in the evening. These industrial details, with the textural variety of the concrete, slate floor and glazed tiles, really brought the space to life.”
Geberit’s AquaClean Mera is positioned between the sink and shower. “The design of the toilet lends itself really well to that space,” says Jack. “Sitting next to the white subway tiles, it becomes an elegant, integrated part of that wall.”
Fly-through of an industrial-themed bathroom by two young designers
A recent graduate of Kingston University, Harry Grundy studied on a conceptually-led graphic design course – a programme that very much suited his philosophy. “My approach puts the idea at the centre of the work,” he says.
Now a “practising multidisciplinary”, Grundy is busy working on commissions and self-initiated projects from the basement of Somerset House. “My focus is within design, but I’m trying my best to breach its boundaries and make the most of my naivety.
“Currently, I’m working on a series of plastic sun-lounging furniture, fixed together using only heat, casting ceramics, and masking disused water towers in giant shower curtains. I’m also trying to stretch a canvas for a painter using my body as the frame.”
Given the ambitious nature of his work, it’s perhaps no surprise that Grundy’s interpretation of the Geberit 21st-century bathroom project has a witty and cleverly abstracted concept at its core: a rustic bathroom capable of replicating natural weather conditions.
“I wanted the bathroom’s concept to grow from something familiar,” says Grundy. “Britain’s turbulent and unpredictable weather seemed like an interesting theme to project onto the room as it changes from day to day. I looked at meteorological storm maps and topography and extruded these graphic forms into something solid and haptic.”
Grundy says it felt natural, when designing the practical features of the room, to look at more visceral appropriations of the weather. “Crosswinds, blown from vents in the structure, blow the user dry. Thick, humid air rises from the floor, creating a sauna. The showerhead manifests itself as thousands of holes in the ceiling, leading to a unique and yet familiar showering experience.”
Bringing the outside in, and offering the “best seat in the house to storm-watch in comfort”, the Geberit AquaClean Tuma faces a glass wall with a widened view of the surrounding countryside.
Fly-through of a bathroom inspired by nature
Contemporary spaces fuse great design and fashion – and Athina Bluff, creative director and designer at Topology Interiors, prides herself on being au fait with the latest trends.
Bluff graduated in classical civilisation, and her appreciation for archaeology has been a solid foundation for an interior design career. “My first job was in Kelly Hoppen’s studio,” she says. “I was inspired by her high-end, minimal products. In 2015, I started Topology, a blog and affordable interior design service. A few months later, it won a small business prize and was shortlisted for an interior design blog award.”
Contributing to Geberit’s 21st-century bathroom project, Bluff captured unique and innovative trends from across the interiors industry. “One idea was bringing the outside in,” she says. “I live in London, where exterior living walls are really popular; this inspired me to include a vibrant living wall behind the shower.”
With a nod to designer Abigail Ahern, Bluff also included dark grey walls to create a cosy feel: “The dark palette is balanced by a skylight, allowing natural light to flood in. Metallic touches add a hint of elegance to the overall look.”
Bluff says Geberit’s AquaClean Mera was perfect for her contemporary space: “Its sleek, cutting-edge design ensures everything in the room is super modern.”
Fly-through of a contemporary bathroom design
With a background in fashion, Sarah Al-Taib turned to interiors as a mature student. After graduating, she moved to Brighton, where she works as a freelance commercial interior designer on projects including hotel redesign.
Inspired by mid-century principles, Al-Taib’s retro design for the Geberit 21st-century bathroom brief captures the vintage spirit of colour and decadence, balanced with a peaceful ethos.
“I allowed the geometric pattern of the wallpaper to influence the whole look,” she says. “Geberit’s look is very modern, so I used a retro print to add character, but kept the overall design fresh and modern. I wanted it to have touches of retro luxury and the peace-driven 60s/70s ideology.”
Placing a freestanding bath on a raised area in front of a wide window, and complementing Geberit’s AquaClean Tuma with a floating sink unit, gives Al-Taib’s space depth. Light and air is allowed to move around and underneath the fixtures.
“Minimal design was a huge mid-century trend, and this concept works perfectly in a contemporary space with retro accents. On a personal level, I love retreating to a bath; an ‘infinity bath’, separate and special, with views to the outside, is an ideal setting to relax in.”
A retro-inspired bathroom created by a young designer